Tag Archives: education
As I have shared within other posts within this series, businesses are using analytics to improve their internal and external facing business processes and to strengthen their “right to win” within the markets that they operate. At first glance, you might not think of universities needing to worry much about their right to win, but universities today are facing increasing competition for students as well as the need to increase efficiency, decrease dependence upon state funding, create new and less expensive delivery models, and drive better accountability.
George Washington University Perceives The Analytic Opportunity
George Washington University (GWU) is no different. And for this reason their leadership determined that they needed to gain the business insight to compete for the best students, meet student diversity needs, and provide accountability to internal and external stakeholders. All of these issues turned out to have a direct impact upon GWU’s business processes—from student recruitment to financial management. At the same time university leadership determined the complexity of these challenges requires continual improvement in the University’s operational strategies and most importantly, accurate, timely, and consistent data.
Making It A Reality
GWU determined that getting after these issues required a flexible system that could provide analytics and key academic performance indicators and metrics on demand, whenever they needed them. They, also, determined that the analytics and underlying data needed to enable accurate, balanced decisions needed to be performed more quickly and more effectively than in the past.
Unfortunately, GWU’s data was buried in disparate data sources that were largely focused on supporting transactional, day-to-day business processes. This data was difficult to extract and even more difficult to integrate into a single format, owing to inherent system inconsistencies and the ownership issues surrounding them — a classic problem for collegial environments. Moreover, the university’s transaction applications did not store data in models that supported on-demand and ad hoc aggregations that GWU business users required.
To solve these issues, GWU created a data integration and business intelligence implementation dubbed the Student Data Mart (SDM). The SDM integrates raw structured and unstructured data into a unified data model to support key academic metrics.
“The SDM represents a life record of the students,” says Wolf, GWU’s Director of Business Intelligence. “It contains 10 years of recruitment, admissions, enrollment, registration, and grade-point average information for all students across all campuses”. It supports a wide-range of academic metrics around campus enrollment counts, admissions selectivity, course enrollment, student achievement, and program metrics.
These metrics are directly and systematically aligned with the academic goals for each department and with GWU’s overall overarching business goals. Wolf says, “The SDM system provides direct access to key measures of academic performance”. “By integrating data into a clean repository and disseminating information over their intranet, the SDM has given university executivesdirect access to key academic metrics. Based on these metrics, users are able to make decisions in a timely manner and with more precision than before.”
Their integration technology supports a student account system, which supplies more than 400 staff with a shared, unified view of the financial performance of students. It connects data from a series of diverse, fragmented internal sources and third-party data from employers, sponsors, and collection agencies. The goal is to answer business questions about whether students paid their fees or how much they paid for each university course.
Continual Quality Improvement
During its implementation, GWU’s data integration process exposed a number of data quality issues that were the natural outcome of a distributed data ownership. Without an enterprise approach to data and analytics, it would have been difficult to investigate the nature and extent of data quality issues from its historical fragmented business intelligence system. Taking an enterprise approach has, as well, enabled GWU to improve data quality standards and procedures.
Wolf explains, “Data quality is an inevitable problem in any higher education establishment, because you have so many different people—lecturers, students, and administration staff—all entering data. With our system, we can find hidden data problems, wherever they are, and analyze the anomalies across all data sources. This helps build our trust and confidence in the data. It also speeds up the design phase because it overcomes the need to hand query the data to see what the quality is like.”
Connecting The Dots
Wolf and his team have not stopped here. As data emanating from social media has grown, they have designed their system so social data can be integrated just as easily as their traditional data sources including Oracle Financials, SunGard, SAP, and flat file data. Wolf says the SDM platform doesn’t turn its back on any type of data. By allowing the university to integrate any type of data, including social media, Wolf has been able to support key measures of academic performance, improving standards, and reducing costs. Ultimately, this is helping GWU maintain its business position as well as the University’s position especially as a magnet for the best students around the world.
In sum, the GWU analytics solution has helped it achieve the following business goals:
- Attract the best students
- Provide trusted reliable data for decision makers
- Enable more timely business decisions
- Increase achievement of academic and administrative goals
- Deliver new business insight by combining social media with existing data sources
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If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail. – Abraham Maslow
We know that learning is continual activity. To be recognized as an expert takes a long time and dedication to practice. Most people can reach an acceptable level of knowledge and skill within a few months of working with a new skill. For some activities being acceptable is good enough. Recreational tennis players don’t need to beat Roger Federer next weekend; they want a good serve to beat their friends. Experts are the people who work harder to be better. (more…)
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This week we had the privilege of participating in two significant conferences taking place in San Francisco. I was on a CMO panel at the B2B Digital Edge Live conference (#DELiveSF), while my colleague Daniel West presented at the Forrester Annual Enablement Forum (#tse12). I found it intriguing how both conferences focused on the same end-result … the “Customer”.
In some respects this is quite surprising given one normally associates Enablement with the process of training sales on how to sell, while marketing always talks about promoting thought leadership into the social network or generating leads from prospects. So why the change?
I think the answer here relates to how both disciplines are moving forward in this modern era driven by social networking. No longer is it just a one-way dialog between vendor and customer – you know, where the vendor promotes products & services via a web-site, or advertises in a magazine. It is now imperative that there is a two-way dialog. Customers are no longer silent! They talk, and they discuss - both good and bad. Vendors need to focus on ensuring their customers are successful. This means focusing on “listening” to their customers and understanding what total customer success means to them – whether it is online, in user groups, at events or in one-to-one meetings. Interestingly, this is one of the fundamental tenents of cloud computing through which service is paramount in order to drive repeatable subscription revenues.
Hence the focus of enablement must shift from simply training sales, and move to enabling sales to foster relationships with customers in order to deliver solutions that really deliver on key business imperatives. The entire value delivery chain (from first contact through to sale, implementation and ongoing success) must be aligned and working for customer success - because vendors are now visibly under the microscope and increasingly being compared and discussed in public. Several comments jumped out at me from the live conference twitter stream (#tse12):
- Certify sales people on talking to buyers, not talking about products.
- 86% of business buyers engage in web research independent of sales cycle.
- 8 months ago, enablement was nice to have, now it is recognized as a must have
- Sales Enablement = Make your customer a hero. That’s why I use “future advocate” and NOT “prospect”.
Strong words indeed which then align with the role of modern marketing teams – Engaging with customers through their chosen social networks to discuss their needs and help position solutions for their success. The role of marketing then becomes increasingly focused on finding the early stage researchers as they engage on social networks and leverage online assets. The role of marketing has now moved to that of engaging online, embracing customers and engaging in ongoing dialog. Again, several topics jumped out from the live conference twitter stream (#DELiveSF):
- Enable B2B salespeople to do what they do best, with digital at the core: data, content, mobile, social, CRM.
- B2B marketing: Start with audience design. Target the influencers of the influencers & create content in places they seek it.
- Marketing direction for digital: brands need to become publishers. Content is king!
- Digital Edge Live: Control social mess before it controls you.
That last point is key - a significant problem is that this modern world of online proactive marketing has become complicated. At the B2B Digital marketing conference, we were asked by the moderator, Kate Maddox, on what our greatest challenges were in digital marketing. Three topics that interested me:
- Joining the dots between out-bound email marketing with social media to nurture customers and prospects efficiently.
- The cultural change associated with evolving from an old-fashioned traditional organization to a leading social enterprise.
- Understanding where user groups now exist – on traditional web-sites – or beyond in the social network of linkedIn, Facebook and other networks.
Marketing and Enablement are evolving rapidly into adjacent displines linked with a common goal of embracing the customer and ensuring that the entire value delivery chain is focused on their success – because without their success we are simply fooling ourselves into believing we are building a sustainable and successful business model.
What do you think?